Broadway diva Idina Menzel has said musicals Rent and Wicked gave gay kids permission to be themselves.

The 40-year-old Menzel, who currently guest stars on Fox's Glee as teacher Shelby Corcoran, first gained notoriety playing lesbian Maureen Johnson in the Broadway musical Rent, a role which she reprised in the big screen adaption of the play. She went on to win a Tony Award for her portrayal of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked.

In a wide-ranging interview with gay glossy The Advocate, Menzel said that Rent – and to a lesser degree Wicked – were celebrations of being true to yourself.

“After seeing [Rent], young [gay] kids would write me letters saying they saw themselves in these characters and how grateful they were that we were celebrating them. This show gave many of them permission to be who they were. Wicked sort of carries on in that same tradition. It's not necessarily about whether or not you're gay, but it's about finding who you are and celebrating that. So, while it wasn't something I was necessarily planning on, I really took notice and understood that these people confiding in me was a gift, so I want to be as vocal as I can be for all those who sat in the audience and made me feel so good.”

PBS on Saturday will broadcast Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony, the music from which will be available Tuesday on iTunes.